Playlistings in Toronto for the Week of February 8th

Shows That Caught Our Eye in Toronto the Week of February 8th, 2015

Review: Cowboy Versus Samurai (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre presents the searing, political comedy Cowboy Versus Samurai

Soulpepper has had a lot of success staging updated adaptations of classic plays so who better to mount a production of Cowboy Versus Samurai, American playwright Michael Golamco’s hilarious, clever, edgy and political adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s classic play Cyrano de Bergerac? Cyrano, the man with the poet’s flair and famously large nose, believed that his ugliness denied him the dream of being loved. But for Travis, the protagonist in Cowboy Versus Samurai it’s not a giant nose that renders him unloveable it’s his race. Continue reading Review: Cowboy Versus Samurai (Soulpepper)

Review: Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)

going home starRoyal Winnipeg Ballet takes on the legacy of the residential school system in Going Home Star

It was an intense evening at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts last night for the opening of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s Toronto leg of their Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation tour. The strength of the RWB dancers and their dedication to telling this story, the story of residential schools and the terrible mark they’ve left on the Indigenous community, make this ballet one of the most powerful and necessary dance productions I have seen in a while. Continue reading Review: Going Home Star – Truth and Reconciliation (Royal Winnipeg Ballet)

Review: The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)

(l-r) Erin Wall as the Countess, Emily Fons as Cherubino and Jane Archibald as Susanna in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, 2016. Conductor Johannes Debus, director Claus Guth, set and costume designer Christian Schmidt, lighting designer Olaf Winter, video designer Andi A. Müller, and choreographer Ramses Sigl. Photo: Michael CooperThe Canadian Opera Company presents Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro in Toronto

There are two reasons that The Canadian Opera Company and I get along so well: fashion and spectacle. I enjoy and appreciate the COC in its daring displays, its peacockery and preening; from the fashion-infused annual gala to the richly appointed productions well-stocked with talent and excitement.

It’s hard to say that this production of The Marriage of Figaro, directed by Claus Guth, was disappointing, that seems unfair – everyone involved was certainly talented and turned in a solid performance. The set was fine, as were the costumes and the lighting. The orchestra sounded pretty good, and so on. But at the opera, I expect to be stirred (especially at 3.5 hours long). I expect to be moved out of thinking “this staging is interesting” and into delight, or despair, or the difficult recognition of universal truth. This Figaro felt like the taupe raincoat that Figaro himself wears in the opening scene of this staging: perfectly serviceable and quite practical.

Continue reading Review: The Marriage of Figaro (Canadian Opera Company)

Review: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (Theatre 20, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Firehouse Arts Centre)

Chelsea HotelThe songbook of Leonard Cohen comes to the Toronto stage

It’s not unusual that I don’t know what to expect when I go to see a show, so it’s no surprise that I didn’t know much about Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, which opened on Thursday at Theatre Passe Muraille.

It is unusual that after seeing the show, I still can’t really say exactly what it was. It’s passionate, moving, melancholy, ethereal, rowdy, haunting, sexy, and funny. It’s circus-like (Cirque de Soleil, not Ringling Brothers). There’s a narrative thread but it isn’t a musical. It’s not a cabaret.

It’s theatre. I really enjoyed it. Continue reading Review: Chelsea Hotel: The Songs of Leonard Cohen (Theatre 20, Theatre Passe Muraille, The Firehouse Arts Centre)

Review: Monomyths – Stage 1 (FADO Performance Art Centre)

Photo of Ursula Johnson and Cheryl L'Hirondelle in Monomyths, stage 1Audio-based endurance performance plays at the FADO Performance Art Centre in Toronto

Monomyths is an ambitious, experimental, and multi-part event. Part 1 (of 3), consisting of of 5 stages, is happening from February 3rd – 7th at The Theatre Centre as part of the Progress Festival. It endeavours to be a sort of feminist re-imagining and disruption of Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces,” a seminal work that’s influenced and shaped the myth of the archetypal hero. With regards to Part 1, Stage 1, which I saw last night, I have good news and bad news.

Continue reading Review: Monomyths – Stage 1 (FADO Performance Art Centre)

Review: The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (Soulpepper)

The Anger in Ernest And Ernestine (Soulpepper) runs January 25th-February 20th, 2016 at Young Centre For the Performing Arts, Toronto ON.Soulpepper show incorporates clowning, improv into relationship play, now on stage in Toronto

What did I just watch? I’ve never seen anything quite like The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine, playing at The Young Centre For The Performing Arts. I was expecting a simple comedic two-hander and instead got a package so stuffed with little treats and surprises, I couldn’t pull my eyes away for fear I would miss something.

This play is about the evolution of a couple’s relationship. From dating and being madly in love, to marriage and the realization that they are opposites. Continue reading Review: The Anger in Ernest and Ernestine (Soulpepper)

Review: Taking Care of Baby (The Care Takers)

Photo of Miranda Calderon by John Gundy

The Care Takers deliver a haunting tale of mental illness, at the Storefront Theatre in Toronto

Taking Care of Baby, playing at The Storefront Theatre, is a haunting, dark, and at points humorous take on the impact of mental illness on a family. Billed as a “fake documentary”, with the overall theme of “truth” at its core, Taking Care of Baby presents us with various characters and various truths, which made for an intriguing Friday night. Continue reading Review: Taking Care of Baby (The Care Takers)